Shifting public policy to achieve a sustainable economy, a healthy environment and a just society.



DATE: July 24, 2008
CONTACT: 510-444-3041 x316

New Report Finds African Americans Are
Disproportionately Affected by Climate Change

Climate Change is an Opportunity for Justice;
Climate Policy that Addresses Equity Would Be Best for U.S. as a Whole

Oakland, Calif.—African Americans are disproportionately affected by climate change and will lose more economically from a bad economic policy and stand to gain more from a good policy.

These findings, from a new report released today by the Environmental Justice and Climate Change Initiative and Redefining Progress, are the result of in-depth analysis of the effects of rising temperatures, greater pollution levels, and a host of other harms from global warming. On average, African Americans will suffer disproportionately from illness, heat deaths, economic loss, and from the cost of wars designed to protect the flow of oil to the U.S., as global warming amplifies nearly all existing inequalities.

“Even though this report focuses on African Americans, the data will be very similar for Latinos, Indigenous people, and low-income people,” said Nia Robinson, director the Environmental Justice and Climate Change Initiative and co-author of the report. “This is a starting point to engage lawmakers about the needs of our communities for climate change and energy legislation.”

The report, “A Climate of Change: African Americans, Global Warming, and a Just Climate Policy for the U.S.,” also analyzes currently debated climate policies and finds that a package of five recommended policies—referred to collectively as the Climate Asset Plan—will lead to environmental health and economic security, not just for African Americans, but for all people living in the U.S. These policies include:

  • A polluter-pays fee, tax, or allowance auction;
  • Substantial investments in energy efficiency;
  • Low-income offsets though a mix of income-support, energy assistance, and energy-efficiency programs;
  • Revenue recycling through taxes and transfers or high value public investment such as schools; and
  • Leakage/job-loss prevention measures for electricity and energy-intensive goods.

“The EJCC report is an important contribution to the fight on global warming, because it highlights the urgent need for Congress to stand up for the poor by standing up to polluters,” said Congressman Edward Markey (D-MA), Chair of the Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming. “Together we must start building a clean energy revolution that will create millions of new green jobs for all Americans and give environmental health to all humanity.”

“A Climate of Change” also calls on the environmental movement to significantly diversify in staff, leadership, thinking, and agenda. “It is broad-based coalitions of environmental, economic, and social justice —and not special interests—that will create equitable climate policy,” said J. Andrew Hoerner, director of the Sustainable Economics program at Redefining Progress and co-author of the report.

The full report and the executive summary are available at

The Environmental Justice and Climate Change Initiative
is a diverse, consensus-based group of U.S. environmental justice, climate justice, religious, policy, and advocacy networks working together to promote just and meaningful climate policy. Our mission is to educate and activate the people of North America towards the creation and implementation of just climate policies in both domestic and international contexts.

Redefining Progress is a nonprofit policy institute dedicated to a strong economy, a healthy environment, and social justice. Our tools include unbiased research and sustainability indicators such as the Genuine Progress Indicator and the Ecological Footprint. We work with a broad array of partners to shift the economy towards sustainable growth. Redefining Progress is proud to be a member of the Environmental Justice and Climate Change Initiative. Visit us at

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